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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Serendipity

Starring: John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale
Director: Peter Chelsom
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 85 Minutes
Release Date: October 2001
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Jeremy Piven, Bridget Moynahan, Molly Shannon, John Corbett, Eugene Levy

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Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Life goes on as a delightful romantic comedy, SERENDIPITY, comes to our theaters. Set in the Big Apple, it proves that terrorists can blow up buildings, but they can't take away the world's love affair with New York.

Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) is a fate fanatic, and Jonathan Trager (John Cusack) is just an old fashion romantic. While Christmas shopping, these two strangers meet over a pair of gloves in Bloomingdales. He wants the last pair of black gloves for his girlfriend, but Sara wants them for her boyfriend. Their amicable disagreement turns into an enchanted few hours together. Although he wants them to exchange names and phone numbers before they separate, she insists that they leave it to fate. His name and number go on a five-dollar bill, and hers on a book ("Love in the Time of Cholera"). Both items are then put into circulation. If it is their destiny to be together, then they will find the items someday. Someday.

This message-in-a-bottle story by Marc Klein has certain inevitable events, but how and when they occur are the movie's sweet surprises. Director Peter Chelsom has just the right touch with the material. His masterful staging of the predictable ending gives it a graceful subtlety as well as a magical moment. (Psst. If you promise not to tell, I'll reveal the identity of Peter Chelsom's last film. It was the disastrous TOWN & COUNTRY. I know. It's hard to believe that it could be the same person.)

Cusack (HIGH FIDELITY) turns in another of his flawless performances, and Beckinsale redeems herself after starring in PEARL HARBOR. The two of them have great chemistry, which is hard to do since they have relatively few scenes together. Most of the movie happens a few years after the glove incident, when they have (almost) given up looking for each other. Now about to be married -- he to Halley (Bridget Moynahan), and she to Lars (John Corbett) -- they are (almost) completely happy.

Among the excellent supporting cast, Jeremy Piven, as an obituary writer, plays Jonathan's best friend, and Molly Shannon, as a non-believing New Age bookstore owner, plays Sara's best friend. But the scene stealer is Eugene Levy (BEST IN SHOW and the AMERICAN PIE series), who plays a hilarious clothing salesman.

Your audience will undoubtedly "ooh" and "aah" a lot as Jonathan and Sara keep almost connecting. And as you leave the theater, you'll probably let out one long "aah," as you float away in bliss.

SERENDIPITY runs just 1:25. It is rated PG-13 for "a scene of sexuality, and for brief language" and would be acceptable for kids about 9 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave it ** 1/2. He thought the film was funny but said that he liked Cusack a lot better in films like GROSS POINTE BLANK.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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